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Education Nation

A solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in America

Food Corps Gets Kids (and Recent Grads) Into Gardens

Not to mention healthy food

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    FoodCorps service members will be trained to build school gardens and link them with nutrition education.

    Tulips are in bloom, birds are chirpping and love is in the air, which means college students the nation over can start looking forward to a summer of Xeroxing and embracing their new names, “Hey Intern” and “You There.”

    Or maybe this year can be different. 

    With growing public interest in locally raised food and garden based-education, FoodCorps -- an offshoot of AmeriCorps -- has captured the attention of hundreds of young adults, many of whom are recent graduates.

    Starting this summer, the organization will place young adults in high-obesity communities for a year-long term of service, during which they will work to develop farm-to-school chains, build and tend school gardens and implement nutrition education.

    The idea is that these efforts will improve the food environment at schools and inform the work of the next generation's farmers, teachers, politicians, and leaders in public health.

    Ten states -- Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon -- will act as FoodCorps host sites for the inaugural 2011-12 year.   

    The organization is the brainchild of the folks behind King Corn, Slow Food USA, and National Farm to School Network and was partly inspired by the revampment of the AmeriCorps service program, which, after recent legislation, will expand its number of positions from 75,000 in 2009 to 250,000 by 2017.

    Proponents of farm-to-school programs -- which have received an increasing amount of publicity since the First Family broke ground on the White House garden -- laud them as community-based solutions to obesity and important learning tools. These programs, however, are not without their challenges, particularly the ones that inevitably arise from giving second-graders shovels and free reign on dirt.   

    If you’d like to apply to become a FoodCorps service member or would like to learn more about the non-profit, click here.  The deadline for 2011-2012 applications just ended at 5 p.m. Sunday, but bookmark the site for future use.


    Check out more education-related stories in our Education Nation section.